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112 VERDICT OX INDIA
Surely, the young artist might feel justified in saying to himself : -
* If paradise on earth there be, it is here, it is here, it is here ! '
We will now enter this paradise.
My search for modern art in Hyderabad began on the day of
my arrival. The lines it followed were so typical that they will
be described very briefly for the last time. They will then serve,
with equal accuracy* for Madras, Mysore, Calcutta, Lahore.
*I would like to see some modern India art.'
c Ah yes, you must see the Ajanta caves.9
Interlude during which it is explained that I would like to see
something a little later than the fifth century. Painful pause.
c You have seen the mosque of Mecca Masjed ? '
Getting warmer. The foundation of this exquisite building
was laid in 1023. But still, not quite warm enough.
We proceed through a long list of mosques and temples,
advancing at the rate of about a century a minute. By persistent
reiteration of the word 'modern' we reach the beginning of the
nineteenth century, and there we stop. """"
'But I want to see the work of some Indian artist who is alive.''
'Alive ? * they echo, ' Alive ? ' '
And then at last they register — sometimes. They do know of
one Indian artist who is alive — just one. It is always the 'greatest
Indian artist" and it is always a different man. In Bengal it is
Tagore, in Delhi it is Jamini Roy, in Madras it is Choudhuri.
Here, in Hyderabad, it was Chugtai.
4 We have a very fine collection of paintings by Chugtai.' they
I had heard of Chugtai, though I had seen no reproductions of
his work. However, at the moment, the quality of his work seemed
less important than the singular fact that he was not dead.
"You are sure that he is alive ? *
kOh yes, he is quite alive/ said the first guide*
'Much alive.3 agreed the second.
The aliveness of Mr. Chugtai being firmly established, we set out
to see his paintings. They were* as far as I could gather, the only
modern paintings that were hanging in the city of Hyderabad at alL